By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsMarch 27, 2009
TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii - The small frame of 14-month-old Robert Anthony Duenas seemed lost in the arms of an American Gladiator.
Yet "Wolf," who stands more than 6 feet tall and carries more than 200 pounds of muscle, held the child tight, coddling him in his muscular arms.
The child wrapped his tiny hand around Wolf's forefinger, and the Gladiator smiled.
"I never thought a star from one of my favorite shows would ever hold my child," said mom Sylvia Duenas, looking on. "This is a special moment."
Wolf, along with seven other celebrities from the "Hollywood Knights" celebrity basketball team, made his way to the Fisher House, a private-public partnership that provides housing to military members and their families during an unexpected hospitalization.
The stars visited with Soldiers and family members, March 18, prior to the celebrity game against the Army Hawaii All-Star basketball team at Aliamanu Military Reservation.
Family members lined up to meet the popular television stars.
A shy smile graced the face of 8-year-old Trevor Duenas as American Gladiator "Venom" talked with the young boy. Trevor looked in wonder at the celebrity, and she flashed a bright smile and held the boy's hand.
Throughout the morning, celebrities graciously signed autographs and collected information about the Fisher House and the services it provides.
"We provide a home away from home for Soldiers and family members," explained Theresa Johnson, Fisher House manager.
Johnson then gave a tour of the house and explained the process to the visitors. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, according to Johnson.
"Visiting the Fisher House was a great moment for me on this trip," said musician and reality television star Aaron Carter. "To see all those families and what they sacrifice, I'm glad they have this support."
The celebrities posed with each family member, eventually gathering outside for a group photo.
"I think this is great for morale," said resident Rose Mesa. "They came to see us, to visit with us."
"It shows support of the military despite what any of us are going through. We are here and they care about that," said Mesa.
"Celebrities have always been a good fit for the military," said Jeff Harvey United Services Organizations (USO) tour manager, Hollywood Knights Tour. "Any given day we can pick up the phone and someone famous will be on the other line asking how they can support our troops."